STEM: Password to Access the Modern World
Sarah Harder on women’s movements and mathematics
Women’s global agenda is developing rapidly. Sarah Harder has been working with women’s organisations for many years already. Thanks to that, she sees how the situation in different countries is changing and knows how to help women become more confident. Today, she carries out charitable activity and fulfils a STEM project aimed at attracting women to exact sciences. All branches of her work are closely interrelated. As an expert, Ms. Harder told us about her views on the role of women in global development and explained the necessity for women to know math.
Sarah Harder - President of the National Peace Foundation, Honorary Professor at the University of Wisconsin, active figure in the field of charity, founder of STEM project
Sarah Harder started working with women’s organisations in the 1990s when she first visited the USSR. A number of women’s communities appeared at that time. That was the rise of women’s movement. “In the 1990s, nobody had clear understanding what to do next. However, it astounded me to learn that every Russian woman considered herself a leader”, she recalls.
Ms. Harder’s Russian was very poor and she could only watch, but she noticed the absence of unity among women. Today, she often visits women’s forums in different countries and notes that the situation has significantly improved. Such events presuppose intensive communication with a high degree of involvement of all women participants. The women’s movement is actively developing. Women are ready to support, inspire, and learn from one another.
– Sarah, what is your vision of women’s role in the history of state?
– In my opinion, it is very important for a woman to be flexible in the constantly changing reality. It is the only way for us to contribute to the development of state.
We have a technologically developed world right before us. When a woman does not work with exact sciences, there will always be restrictions placed on her.
Because of that, we are respected less and are not listened to properly. I think that women should master this technological instrument.
Those who are concerned about progress possess enormous responsibilities. These people must learn to cooperate and listen to one another. It is important to ensure that there are more women among them.
The more experience we gain, the higher is our readiness to make our world such as it needs to be is.
I have always sensed the opportunity of sharing opinions and ideas. It is always resultative when women gather to discuss something. During the conversation, we can discard some false decisions.
– Why do you work with STEM programme?
– STEM means all or nothing. This programme is designed to help women feeling the restrictions of not knowing the laws of the world’s functioning overcome this obstacle.
– Mathematics is one of the STEM programme’s components. What should be the amount of teaching it at schools and universities?
– I believe that mathematics is essential in university education. In our family, we had a certain mathematical curse. My father wasn’t good at it. Then I started to avoid it thinking that I would not manage to master it. Unfortunately, now I see that my granddaughter who has just enrolled the college has some inner difficulties with it. She studies well but her main subject is biology. She has already made up her mind not to work with exact sciences.
It is sad that such stereotypes suppress women and make them give up their goals. Sometimes we just are not sure whether we will cope with it.
I think that we should do everything we can to help young girls believe in themselves and move towards their success. Mathematics is our key tool in that.
– How long have you been doing public work? How does it help you reach moral satisfaction?
– Public work has always been interesting for me. It started at the university.
I needed to continue my studies after giving birth to a child. However, there was no mother-and-child room there. Therefore, I started to negotiate with male management and finally achieved what I wanted: they listened to me and agreed.
After that, I started to notice some other things, which needed to be changed to make women’s lives better. I was good at it and it helped many other female students and employees.
– How do American media cover positive news about women’s activities?
– It depends. I believe that media’s attention depends on how we present ourselves. In the past, when I was a part of women’s movements, we had a certain approach to media. We were like “you’ll have to notice us, we are so strong, we dislike everything, we are against everything”.
Now my vision is that we need to feel comfortably in the spheres where we haven’t succeed yet and where we try to improve something. Only then, the media would speak about us.
We work together to discover the new ways to collaborate and spread communication. That is how we share our knowledge and skills.
The main point is to not only help the needy but also collaborate to show who we are and who we are going to be.
That is how I see the message of a small word ’STEM’, which means so little and so much. That is where the huge potential for women’s development and spiritual growth lies.
– What would you like to wish Russian women?
– To remain as they are. When I first came here, I was astonished at how Russia’s women succeed in technologies and exact sciences. There is no such thing in the USA so it amazed me then and I admire it now.
In my opinion, Russian and American women are similar in their openness to a dialogue.
The thing we believe in must happen. However, it is still important to empower women in technological field, as nowadays it is essential. This is a special password to access the modern world.
Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov